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Systematic Reviews

This guide describes all steps involved in the conduct of a systematic review

Is a review required?

Before undertaking a systematic review, it is necessary to check whether there are already existing or ongoing reviews, and whether a new review is justified.

A good start is to:

Additionally, search (one of) the following resources to establish the answer to this question: 

Gather a team of collaborators

All that is necessary to start a systematic review is a question. However, finalizing it requires great time and effort. To increase the change of a systematic review leading to a publication it is important to gather a team of collaborators with different expertise.

A good team consists of:

  • A dedicated project leader
    Key is that the systematic review process is overseen and encouraged by a motivated project leader.
  • Multiple experts in the field 
    Provide their knowledge to the search specialist to come up with the best search strategy possible. After the search has been performed the experts are required to select the articles for inclusion, accurately extract the data and write-up a comprehensive and transparent report. Because of the complex task of writing a systematic review it is advised to have at least one of the experts to be experienced with the process.
  • A search specialist, preferable a skilled librarian
    Performing an exhaustive literature search is the specialism of the information specialist that work at the university library. Together with the experts in the field they can set up and conduct the most relevant and extensive search possible.
  • In case of a meta analysis: a statistician
    If a meta-analysis is performed, statisticians are indispensable for their knowledge.